Cantor: Firing Cole Not The Answer

Rep. Eric Cantor, the Republicans' chief deputy whip, admitted Wednesday that the GOP mood is sour but said that making changes to the House leadership team was not necessary after a third straight special-election loss.

"Honestly, post the special election last night there has been a lot of discussion about the way forward. And frankly, members are not in a great mood and nor am I," he said. "We have got a lot of work to do and we have only got six months to do it."

Cantor said, however, that easing out NRCC chairman Tom Cole (R-Okla.) wasn't necessary.

"Breaking up the team is not the answer. We need to go forward," he said.

"My sense is--we had a leadership meeting this morning--the sense of the group was we need to pull together as a team. The message of a candidate being 'too liberal' or 'too out of sync' is not what voters want to hear…It just didn't work. But what does work, though, is a realization that the paradigm has been shifted. This country is tired of excuses and doesn't want to hear about 'too liberal' or 'too this' or 'too that.' What they want to hear is solutions."

House Republican Conference Chairman Rep. Adam Putnam of Florida agreed with Cantor's analysis.

"Changing people for the sake of change does not address the challenges we face," he said.

Asked if Republicans need to break with President Bush, Cantor dodged the question, noting that "this election is going to be about John McCain."